Dead Bird Quiz Answers

20 05 2010

Our Bird A was a Guinea Fowl, similar to this one in all respects except the lack of a head.

Yesterday’s Dead Bird Quiz generated an unprecedented number of responses.  Bird A was universally pegged as a Guinea Fowl, despite the disturbing lack of a head. These are a domestic species kept on farms and in backyards for no particular reason except perhaps their reputation for eating a lot of ticks.

Our very learned readership offered a number of Latinate answers for Bird B: Stephen Brezinski, who found the bird, suggested that it was a Elastica Gallus Gallus Domesticus, Mary Wright said Gallus domesticus, subspecies plasticus, while Libby Rock sent an email identifying the bird a  Common Gallus Hilarious (a personal favorite of mine). John Stanton suggested “mutant rubber jungle fowl,” and Diana Gaumond offered “Airline Dinner Main Ingredient.” This last would have been the correct answer, except that that ecological niche is now occupied by the species Stale Pretzels in a Tiny Bag.

Now we must seriously consider Bird C, a very tricky specimen. Guesses were split almost equally between Ruddy Turnstone and Horned Lark. Your SEANET blogger is coming down on the side of the Horned Lark. This is by no means definitive, but I justify it thusly: take a look at the image of the Horned Lark shown here (borrowed from the very cool Rich Ditch’s Photography Blog). The Lark has a shortish, sharpish beak much like our Bird C. Also, (and this is the clincher, I think) the Lark has yellow coloration on the throat and the lores, as does our mystery bird.

The Ruddy Turnstone, while also having distinct black facial markings, lacks any yellow and has much more white on the head rather than the brownish color over the head of the Horned Lark.

Your blogger invites dissent on this matter as she is by no means the definitive expert. Thanks for the copious responses everyone!

Bird C's head shows some considerable yellow coloration. Thus, Horned Lark. I think.

Bird C was a Horned Lark (I think). Photo by Richard Ditch

The alternative hypothesis: A Ruddy Turnstone



2 responses

21 05 2010
Mary Wright

Speaking as one who has raised quite a few guinea fowl, they are not kept “for no particular reason.” They are characters and are fun to watch. They sound the alarm better than any watchdog. I have seen a flock of guineas surround a fox and shriek at it until it ran away. They are also delicious eating. I used to bring guinea hen sandwiches for lunch when I was in junior high school — much yummier than PB&J!

21 05 2010

another point in favor of horned lark– I couldn’t see the feet in the picture, which to me means they were darker. Ruddy Turnstones have such bright pink feet and legs this time of year, they should have been obvious, even in a photo.

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